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Danau Sentarum National Park

Written By Rio Gonzales on Thursday, March 29, 2012 | Thursday, March 29, 2012

Danau Sentarum National Park is located in Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan. It is situated in the upper Kapuas River basin, roughly 700 km upstream from the delta. The geographical position is between 111°55″-112°26″ of eastern longitude and 0°45″-01°02″ of northern latitude. The Danau Sentarum national park covers an area of 132.000 hectares. The area consists of a unique seasonal lake system, which is interspersed with swamp forest, peat swamp forest as well as lowland forest on isolated hills. With its unique lake and swamp forest ecosystem and high valuable biodiversity Danau Sentarum national park is one of the largest and most important freshwater wetlands in Asia.
The topography of Danau Sentarum national park is mainly flat, partially concave shaped, with some isolated hills. It is surrounded by hill and mountain ranges in the west, northeast and east. With its topography and location the area of Danau Sentarum plays also an important role as a water buffer of the Kapuas watershed system: the area mitigates floods during rainy season and buffers water during the dry season.
During rainy season between Octobers to May the water levels of the lakes and streams in the park area increase dramatically and may rise up to 12 meters. As a consequence the lake system may become a single water mass in the rainy season. About 9 months in a year the area is flooded with an average depth of 6.5 meters. However, the depth can vary significantly and may increase up to 14 meters. During the dry season, typically between June and September, water levels fall and many lakes may dry out entirely, while only the deepest water channels remain. But this can vary from year to year as well. During the dry season in 2010 for example the lakes remained “full”, due to heavy rainfall, which occurred almost every day. As a consequence serious flooding occurred even in the upper regions of the Kapuas River, e.g. in Putussibau.

Flora and Fauna

A. Flora

Danau sentarumThe vegetation of Danau Sentarum National Park primarily consists of swamp forest. The swamp forest can be divided into three major types – tall, stunted and dwarf swamp forest.
Tall swamp forest is locally called “hutan pepah”. Its canopy height is on average 22-35 meters. The trees growing in “hutan pepah” are mainly Kelansau (Shorea balangeran or also called Red Balau), Emang (Hopea mengerawan) or Melaban (Tristaniopsis obovata). Tall swamp forest is inundated between one to three meters for about 2-3 months annually
Stunted swamp forest is locally called “hutan rawa “or “hutan gelagah”.  The trees in stunted swamp forest are 10-15 meters tall. Stunted swamp forest is flooded up to 3-4 meters for about 4-7 months in a year. The dominating trees here are Menungau (Vatica menungau) and Kenarin (Diospyros coriacea). But there are many other species, which can be found in stunted swamp forest of Danau Sentarum.
Dwarf swamp forest is locally called “hutan rapak gelgah”. The trees and shrubs of dwarf swamp forests in Danau Sentarum are 5 to 8 meters tall.  Dwarf swamp forest is flooded up to 4.5 meters for about 8-11 months annually.  Dominating plants and trees are Putat (Barringtonia acutangula) , Kayu Tahun (Carallia bracteata)and Kebesi (Memecylon edule).
Dryland forests of Danau Sentarum occur on isolated hills only and are dominated by diptorocarp species.
There are more than 500 plant species recorded for Danau Sentarum belonging to 99 families with 154 types of orchids. More than half of the species occur in the swamp forests. About 33 species are endemic to the Danau Sentarum area and 10 species are new species to science.

 B. Fauna

Danau Sentarum national park offers an incredible diversity of fish. The lakes and small streams of the Danau Sentarum area harbor 265 species of freshwater fish. You can find small fish of 1 cm length, such as the Linut (Sundasalx cf. Microps) as well as fish of 200 cm length such as the Tapah (Wallago leen). And, of course, Danau Sentarum also harbors the Super Red Siluk or Arwana (Sclerophages formosus) .

Tuntong StorkThere have been roughly 300 bird species identified in Danau Sentarum belonging to 54 families, including the Tuntong Stork (Leptoptilus javanicus), the rare swamp forest stork (Ciconia storm) and the Beluk Ketupa (Ketupa ketupa). Moreover Danau Sentarum harbours 8 types of internationally preserved Rangkong or Hornbills (Buceritidae).

There are 147 species of mammals, which occur in Danau Sentarum. This number corresponds to two-thirds out of 222 species of mammals that are found in Borneo. Many of these species are endemic species and rare or endangered such as the Orangutan Pongo pygmaeus or the Bekantan (Nasalis larvatus).

Reptiles, which occur in Danau Sentarum, include crocodiles, turtles, wizards and snakes. Beside numerous species of snakes, there are about 11 species of turtles and  2 species of wizards
There are also three species of crocodiles, which have been identified in Danau Sentarum, which are protected by Indonesian law: False Gavial (Tomistoma schlegeli), the Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and a third species Crocodylus ranius.

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